personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

The road to Kathmandu: A Photo Essay



1. Along the road to Kathmandu
The workshop ended July 30 at about four in the afternoon. My bags were packed, I hopped into the hotel owner's personal vehicle and left the hilly landscape of Dhulikhel with my friends and was off to Kathmandu. I've always been reluctant at taking out the camera in public. I know I do not like to be photographed by tourists in my hometown, why should anyone else feel any differently? 


2. Taking a stroll on the highway
I hesitatingly took out my camera from the backseat and began to take pictures of the countryside. Most of them blurry, but nonetheless they give you an accurate idea of what life is like along the road from tiny Dhulikhel, through ever-busy and ever-messy Bhaktapur to the incessant hustle and manic bustle of Kathmandu. (The complete set of full-resolution can be found here.)


3. Taking a bus ride
The first image shows the lushness of the countryside. Granted, in a place like this you would think the Himalayas reign supreme in terms of sights, but the vibrancy of the rice fields contrasted by the scores of women dressed in red scattered across the fields is equally captivating.


4. Street vendors
The second image, taken a few minutes later, shows a couple of pedestrians, one with a missing leg,  walking along the side of the highway. For most of the trip to Kathmandu, the highway was littered with cars, buses, bicycles, carts, trucks, animals, people of all ages doing everything from strolling to carrying enormous bags of rice on their backs.
Speaking of buses, it seemed entirely normal for passengers to fill up every seat on this bus (image 3) and then for extra passengers to make their way on the roof of the bus.
5. Alone
As we approached more densely-populated areas, the street vendors (image 4) made their presence known by selling all sorts of goods, from fresh fruits to phone cards to meat I would never risk eating to crappy toys made in China.


For all the signs of vitality in the larger towns, signs of poverty and misery are never far off. The image of the young man (image 5) naked, filthy and alone by the side of the road was one of the more troubling images I'd seen during the trip.


6. Giant standing Buddha
Before passing through the large city of Bhaktapur, the road zigzagged downwards to the point where we could get a fairly good glimpse of a statue of an immense standing Buddha (image 6), apparently 143 feet (or metres, never found out which). With the driver maneuvering the vehicle through twists and turns at a nauseating rate, it was practically impossible to take a decent shot of the Buddha. I took a chance and stuck the camera out the window, pointed it in the general direction of the statue, and clicked. As luck would have it, I managed to get the entire statue in the photo - only it doesn't look all that big.


7. Who driving?
Driving through Bhaktapur provides the viewer with the usual sights of safety violations for anyone operating a motorized vehicle. A common site (image 7) of helmetless children sitting in various positions on a motorbike was the norm. The occasional animal herd (image 8) was to be avoided.


After traveling on a grueling, 
8. Don't give me any bull, I'm driving
unpaved road for what seemed an endless amount of time, we finally reached the outskirts of Kathmandu (image 9). The constant buzz of the city streets has an electrifying effect after being in the countryside for most of the week, and it's at once energizing and suffocating. 


9. Streets of Kathmandu
Finally, as our destination nears, there is a quiet moment as I turn to my left and see a man minding the goods he is selling on the sidewalk (image 10).


10. A street vendor in a quiet moment
Full resolution images, along with others from the trip, can be found here.
















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